The invitation to Brendon’s wedding is stuck to his refrigerator with a magnet shaped like a brightly-coloured chicken. It’s heavy cream paper, but the font is some quirky, blocky thing, and there are more exclamation marks than is strictly proper for a formal invitation. The RSVP date had come and gone a couple of weeks back. Ryan hasn’t spoken to Brendon in six months or so.
“You should - I mean. He’d like to hear from you,” says Spencer. He’s been reading self-help books again; Ryan can hear how carefully he avoids telling Ryan what he should do.
“He has my number,” says Ryan.
“He has your address, too,” says Spencer. “I know he does. That’s where he sent the invitation.”
“Ryan.” Spencer pauses, and sighs just loudly enough Ryan can hear it down the phone line. “I think he misses you. He’d like you to come.”
“Then why doesn’t he call me?”
“He invited you.” Spencer sounds frustrated. “He wants you to be there.”
Ryan hums noncommittally. “Maybe,” he says.
“I’d like you to come,” says Spencer quietly. “It would be nice to see you. Have us all together again.”
“Is Jon coming?” asks Ryan, more to be a dick than out of genuine curiosity.
Spencer hesitates briefly. “Jon’s invited,” he says.
“What about Brent?” asks Ryan, and Spencer’s exasperated huff explodes down the line.
“Ryan,” he says forcefully, then audibly chokes off whatever he was going to say. “Look, never mind. There’ll be a seat for you; come or don’t.”
“Okay,” says Ryan brightly. He’s sure he’s imagining the sound of Spencer grinding his teeth.
Ryan still lives in the same house he bought a few years back. The moat is kind of overgrown by now, but the views down the canyon are the same. He’s not sure he fits it anymore, but the idea of going through the process of selling it, finding a new place - a smaller place, he thinks sometimes, somewhere with pale walls and lots of light - is exhausting, makes him want to put his head under his blanket. He’s used to this place, anyway. Got used to it and then came to hate it and then got used to it again; it’d be a shame to leave now that he knows exactly how long it takes the ancient water heater to get his shower to an acceptable temperature. He’s timed his whole morning routine around getting in just as the water is perfectly warm and staying in just until it starts to chill.
“You could get a better water heater,” Z tells him. “You actually own the house, you’re allowed to do stuff to it.” She stretches on his couch, catlike.
“If I start fixing things,” he wonders, “how do I stop?” He thinks some more. “What do I fix first?”
Z eyes him sympathetically. “You’re overthinking it, honey.”
He shrugs. He knows he could replace the heater, but it isn’t really broken, and he kind of likes the clanking noises it makes from the basement as it struggles to get hot water all the way up to him. It’s like the sound his old dialup modem used to make, struggling to connect. The water heater isn’t really the point, though. “It’s kind of my thing,” he tells her. “Overthinking things.”
She rolls her eyes at him.
Ryan likes to keep things.
Not, like, hoarding or anything, he doesn’t have stacks of empty bottles or newspapers or whatever, he’s totally clean. But he hates throwing things out. There’s a room in his house stacked high with every book he’s ever read and all the ones he still means to get to, shelves on every wall and books lying in heaps on the floor, no particular order anywhere. The living room seems to be breeding DVD cases; his kitchen drawers are packed with odd little gadgets for peeling or slicing or opening bottles. Packrat, that’s it; magpie.
He’s got notebooks everywhere. He’d gotten into the habit of buying notebooks when he’d decided to be a writer, aged twelve and a half, and had started carrying one with him wherever he went, and never quite dropped the habit, even once he started doing most of his writing on his computer, or his phone, or recording phrases and snatches of music out loud instead of writing them down. It’s all good, he thinks, it’s all art.
Once, he’d half-written a song on the back of Brendon’s arm as he slept belly-down on a couch on a bus somewhere. Brendon had woken up before he was done, snorted and shoved him off, and then gone, “Oh, cool,” and made Ryan take a photo of it, because he couldn’t read it in the mirror. They’d never used those lyrics for anything – seriously, he'd been high as fuck when he did it – but Brendon had laughed and said it was excellent.
Now Ryan has a bunch of notebooks he hasn’t used and keeps accidentally buying more and then not writing anything in them. Oh, he writes. In a sort of desultory fashion, when the mood strikes him; when something particularly beautiful occurs or when he’s feeling especially sorry for himself, he’ll thrash it out in words and lay it down on paper and feel better.
But it isn’t habitual anymore, not like it was. He doesn’t carry a notebook anymore, doesn’t jot things down in every quiet space of his day. Somewhere along the line, writing turned into a hobby instead of a driving passion. Somewhere, the art that he'd left everything for stopped mattering, and he hadn't even noticed.
“Will you stop hassling me about the wedding,” is how Ryan answers the phone whenever he sees Spencer’s name on the screen.
Spencer doesn’t say anything, but Ryan can hear him breathing.
“Sorry,” he says after a minute.
“I think I’m gonna go back to Vegas this weekend,” says Spencer. “See my mom and the girls.”
“Yeah?” says Ryan. “Say hi to them?”
“You should call them,” says Spencer. “Mom worries about you. She worries if you’re eating enough, if you’re looking after yourself.”
“I’m actually a grownup now,” says Ryan.
“Did you pay your electricity this month?” asks Spencer.
”Fuck you,” says Ryan peacefully. His electricity hasn’t been turned off in ages, not since he remembered to call the company when his credit card expired.
“Maybe you could come home for Christmas this year,” says Spencer, and Ryan is sure, very sure, he’s not trying to be cruel, so he makes a noncommittal noise and changes the subject.
Ryan remembers being seventeen and thinking that he could hide all his hurting parts behind metaphor and cadence and nobody would ever know.
He remembers being nineteen and seeing his future laid out in front of him, everything he’d ever wanted, like it had been waiting for him and all he had to do was walk in and take it.
He remembers being twenty-two and being fiercely, quietly sure he would be this happy forever.
Panic was going to be everything, it was going to be his whole world. He’d said as much to Jon, once, maybe when they were stoned sometime. That they’d be sixty or seventy and still doing reunion tours, that baby bands would one day fight to open for them, shake their hands and call them an inspiration.
He has a google alert for Panic, and one for Spencer, among the mess that lands in his inbox every morning. He'd followed the success of Vice and Virtues grimly, determinedly. He’d secretly thought – not hoped, not even in his nastiest moments, but patiently expected -- that it wouldn’t work. Brendon would crack under the pressure, or the album would bomb, and they would see that he’d been right the whole time.
He runs into Pete in a Starbucks, of all places. He’s got a giant cup in one hand, his phone jammed between his ear and his shoulder, and he’s corralling Bronx with his foot. The kid seems pretty happy to be corralled, one hand hooked in Pete’s jeans pocket and the other jammed in his mouth, staring around at the coffee patrons with disinterest.
Pete’s eyes get big when he sees Ryan, and a goofy grin splits his face. “Hey, man!” he crows, and then, “No, not you, I’ll call you in a bit,” as he hangs up. “Heeeyyyy,” he croons, and grabs Ryan in a hug.
“Hi,” says Ryan awkwardly. It’s still a little odd that Pete is so much shorter than he is, and he now has a toddler standing on his foot, but he hugs Pete back anyway.
“Come sit with me, Ryan Ross,” says Pete. “Tell me what you’ve been up to.”
“In a second,” says Ryan, and Pete rolls his eyes and taps his foot and waits while Ryan queues up and orders and waits for his drink, and they settle into chairs away from the window. Bronx has a crusting of milk from his babycino, all around his mouth, and Pete produce a wet wipe from his messenger bag and cleans him off efficiently.
“Touring is such good practice for parenting,” Pete tells him. “Well, touring the way we used to do it.” He snickers. “Don’t sweat the messes, you know? Drove Ash up the wall for while there. Now I make sure to clean him good before I send him back.”
“Kids get dirty, though.” Ryan’s sure he’s read that somewhere; kids aren’t really his thing.
“Yeah.” Pete grins down at his kid, finishes scrubbing his little hands off, and shoves a little cardboard book at him. “Here, practice your colors, dude.”
Bronx takes the book and examines in with practised, put-upon disdain. Ryan likes this kid.
“So, Ryan. Ryan Ross,” says Pete.
“Peter Lewis Kingston –“
“Shut up, oh my god,” says Pete. “Don’t start that shit, George.” But he’s grinning, and for a minute it’s like no time has passed at all, never mind that Pete’s sporting a buzzcut these days instead of purple bangs, that there’s creases around his eyes that don’t go away when he stops smiling instead of smudged eyeliner, that he keeps baby wipes and books about colors in his satchel.
“So tell me the things,” says Pete.
“All of the things,” says Pete. “Like, you. Man, I have not seen you -- you, like, dropped off the edge.” He cocks his head, and Ryan feels a flash of guilt for how much he’d blown Pete off, back when the split happened. Pete doesn’t look that upset about it, but Pete’s never been that good at being mad. “I bet you’ve been off writing the great American novel or some shit, haven’t you. The next Hunter S Thompson.”
“Not really,” says Ryan. “I mean, I’ve been writing some, but like, lyrics. Nothing really. “ He thinks about it, drumming his fingers on the table. “Nothing cohesive.”
Pete’s gaze sharpens, then softens. “Yeah. I know what that’s like.” He clears his throat. “Like, after everything.”
“Yeah.” He looks out the window. “Fuck it, we are depressing.”
“Don’t swear in front of my kid,” says Pete, and Ryan looks over, startled. Pete’s grinning his big stupid grin, and Bronx is chewing on the sleeve of Pete’s hoodie, slung over the back of the chair. “Kidding, dude.”
“I’ve been thinking about, like, getting back into it,” says Ryan. “Solo stuff, maybe, acoustic.” He hasn’t, but he’s never quite lost the desire to not disappoint Pete.
“That is excellent.” Pete points at him sternly. “That is the best news, Ryan Ross. You let me know, I will help you out.”
Ryan curls in on himself a bit. “But. The label?” It’s Pete’s imprint, sure, but that doesn’t mean Pete gets all the decisions, and even though they’d eventually settled everything, Ryan had walked out on his contract. He’s pretty sure his name is mud at DecayDance.
“Fuck the label,” says Pete, passionately. “Or, like, no. I love my label. But, dude, we’re still friends, right? I can help out. I know people.” He nods.
“I – sure.” Ryan swallows around the lump in his throat, and Pete looks sort of alarmed.
“Oh my god, don’t cry.”
“Fuck you,” says Ryan, with a guilty glance at Bronx.
“Did you think – oh my god, you did.” Pete shoves his coffee to the side, leans forward over the table, earnest. “Ryan, Ryan. Come on. The business shit is just business, man. And it’s ugly, sure, and it gets messy. But, fuck. You guys are, like, my guys, you know?”
“Brendon and Spencer are still your guys,” Ryan mumbles, annoyed at how petulant he sounds to his own ears.
Pete pinches his wrist. “You’re the one that stopped taking my calls.”
Fuck Pete Wentz, anyway. Seriously.
But Ryan goes back home and pulls out his latest notebook, ragged along the edge where he fidgets while he writes, and flips through it. A lot of it is crap. Like, a lot.
He pulls out a fresh notebook and starts over, flipping through what he’s got, picking out lines and phrases that are good or okay or need some tweaking, and when he’s done, he’s only got, like, a page and a half.
He goes into his office and grabs a stack of half-filled notebooks, heads out onto the patio.
The shit he was writing six months ago is morose and terrible; the shit he was writing a year ago is worse. There’s a chunk of time from right after Jon left where he hadn’t written anything at all, where he’d been caught up in the idea of being an artist for art’s sake and done a lot of drugs and had a bunch of sex and not really gotten any work done for months.
There’s stuff from earlier than that, though, from tour buses and recording and the early days. Nothing solid, nothing that he’d ever bothered to make into an actual song, make something of, but something. He can see snatches of his younger self, prickly and furious, sure that it would all be taken away from him at any moment. He finds things he doesn’t remember in his own writing, bits of emotion he put out he doesn’t remember feeling – something about Brendon tickling him, an incident he remembers vaguely, but not what he wrote about it, his bewilderment and happiness and annoyance all twisted together. Another page isn’t even lyrics, just Ryan thinking about Spencer growing up and getting all manly and confusing with the beard and the shoulders and his stupid deep voice, even when he was still doing that thing with his hips. Further back and there’s bit of his confusing, short-lived crush on Jon, and a tangle of feeling about his dad he doesn’t even read, just skips over -- he is done sticking his family issues in the top ten, thanks.
When he’s done, he’s taken five, six years of rambling thoughts and distilled it down to about forty scrawled pages of maybe. He feels like he’s walked into a wall. Repeatedly.
“This used to be easier,” he says out loud.
The living room makes no reply. He’s got a swimmy headache, like he hasn’t drunk enough water or slept or something. He had to find a cloth to wipe the dust off his guitar, and then he had to stop and tune it. His fingers have softened and the skin under his fingernails is stinging and his voice keeps cracking.
Writing is hard.
“Seriously,” says Spencer. “About the wedding.”
“Not now,” says Ryan, and hangs up.
He feels guilty immediately, which trips up his working vibe enough there’s no point not calling to apologise. “Sorry. I was working.”
“For fuck's sake.” The exasperation in Spencer’s voice is familiar. They’re probably not close enough anymore for Ryan to pull that kind of shit and expect Spencer to put up with it, but it makes him irrationally angry that Spencer’s so frustrated when Spencer know what he’s like when he’s working.
“I said sorry,” he says. “I’m really writing, though. I have a couple of songs now, I think.”
“Great,” says Spencer flatly. “About the wedding. Are you in or out? We need to know.”
“Are you the wedding planner now?” Ryan fiddles with a tuning knob. “Go-between?”
“Out, then? Okay. I’ll let them know.” His words are clipped, irritated, and Ryan doesn’t need twenty years of friendship to pick up on Spencer’s end-of-his-ropeness.
“Wait, no,” he says, and hears Spencer take in a breath, maybe to yell. “Just. Hang on.”
Spencer does, and there’s a couple of slow moments where neither of them say anything. Eventually, Spencer sighs again. “Look, Ryan. I get that you’re all... whatever.”
“Conflicted, whatever. But you – you said you still wanted to be friends, okay, and Brendon is trying, but if you won’t even, like – you don’t even have to talk to him, okay? You can just show up and smile and then leave.”
“I don’t,” says Ryan, but Spencer steamrolls over the top of him.
“Or don’t. That’s okay, too; I mean, if you don’t want to, that’s fine. But he wants you to be there. He’s trying to give you space, he’s trying to not start shit, but you’re all, oh, we’ll still be friends and you can’t even be bothered to fill out a fucking card either way and mail it, then fuck you, seriously, fuck you.”
Ryan pulls the phone away from his ear and stares at it. Spencer is mad. And not, like, Spencer-mad, where he gets all shut-off and formal and narrow-eyed. Spencer is, like, furious. Ryan’s phone is practically smoking.
“Spence,” he says, but Spencer has hung up. He doesn’t answer when Ryan calls him back, so Ryan puts the phone down, picks up his pen and carefully writes down what he’s feeling. It’s important to form good habits, he thinks, and then goes to find his keys.
He gets ten minutes away from home before he realises he hasn’t showered in three days, and, okay, these guys have lived on a bus with him at the height of their collective stinkiness, but it’s probably rude to make house calls smelling like a hobo, and, of course, as soon as he notices that his scalp starts itching and he’s convinced he can smell his own underpants. So he turns around and goes home, showers and shaves and pulls on clean clothes. He wonders if he should take something, like muffins or something, but he doesn’t really have any food in the house and he can’t cook and he suspects flowers would be wildly inappropriate for this particular "Sorry I was a douche" conversation.
He’s never been to Brendon’s place, the one he shares with his fiancée, and he gets lost a couple of times even with his GPS, mostly because he keeps it on mute because the little voice creeps him the fuck out. There’s a couple of cars in the driveway, so somebody’s home. Unless Brendon has turned into the kind of rock star who buys lots of cars, but he suspects that kind of rock star would keep them in a garage or something, and also not live where Brendon does, in a two-storey place in the suburbs, with a big yard.
He sits in his car for a while, parked by the kerb. Drums his fingers on the steering wheel. Stares at the house like a creeper.
His phone chirps, startling him, and it’s a message from Brendon: icu. He’s still blinking at it in bemusement when it goes again: come inside dumass
Brendon is waiting just inside the front door. His hair is sticking up in stupid directions, and he’s wearing new glasses from when Ryan last saw him.
“Hey,” Ryan says, and waves across the threshold.
Brendon nods, and sort of tucks his shoulders in. “Come in,” he says, and Ryan follows him through to the kitchen. As they pass one door, he can hear a hammering, driving beat, like somebody’s taking all their anger out on a set of drums.
“Spencer’s here?” he asks, and Brendon shrugs.
“Yeah, he was helping out with some wedding stuff. We were going over the seating plan for the reception.”
“How’s the wedding planning going?”
Brendon grins then. “Venue’s booked, celebrant’s booked. Sarah’s got her dress. Even if everything else falls apart, we’ll still be married at the end of it, so. Just details now.”
“Like the guest list,” says Ryan, and Brendon looks at him strangely and offers him a drink.
A dog comes into the kitchen, investigates Ryan crotch-first, and leaves again, busily. Brendon sets a mug of green tea in front of him, sits down across the table.
“I’ll come,” says Ryan. His voice cracks. “To – is it too late to RSVP?”
Brendon smiles down at the table. “Spencer said you already had,” he says. “I kind of figured he was planning on kidnapping you to ensure it.”
“He’s pretty mad at me,” says Ryan.
“He’s not the only one.” Brendon’s still not looking at him, still smiling that funny nothing smile. “Because it never occurred to me, you know, that you just wouldn’t come. Because.” He looks up then, and away just as fast. “We’re still gonna be friends, right?”
“I wrote a song about you,” says Ryan.
Brendon cocks his head. “And then Spencer got so fucking defensive about it, like, he’ll come, he’s definitely coming, absolutely. Definitely. But I hadn’t heard from you, and it was like you couldn’t even be bothered saying no.”
Ryan stares at his tea. “It wasn’t that.”
“You know,” says Brendon. “I actually have other shit to worry about right now. I am planning my wedding. My actual wedding, to this girl who is the best thing in my entire life. You wouldn’t know. You’ve never fucking met her.”
“I’m sorry,” says Ryan. “I’ve been – I know I’ve been pretty messed up.”
Brendon snorts. “Like that’s new.”
Ryan taps his fingers on the table. “If I use a metaphor, will you throw something at me?”
“That was one time, god,” says Brendon. “Go on then, I know you feel better hiding behind literary devices.”
He’s riding the line between friendly teasing and actual nastiness, and Ryan is stung into being blunter than he meant to. “You’re Ursula the sea witch,” he says, and Brendon blinks at him.
“Wha – from The Little Mermaid? What?”
“It’s like you stole my life,” says Ryan, and now Brendon looks hurt, and mad, and still sort of confused.
“What the fuck, Ryan, I didn’t steal – I worked hard for this. I didn’t fucking take anything from you.”
“No, just – just fucking listen, would you? Can I finish?” Brendon subsides, flushed and angry. In the basement, Spencer is making so much noise, Ryan suspects he is just throwing things at this point. He hopes he’s not going to fuck up his hands.
Ryan breathes deep into his belly, lets it out carefully. “I had a plan when we got signed, you know. I was going to be in this kick-ass band, and write all the music, and be fucking famous, and be Pete’s little protégé -- and then his friend once he realised how awesome I was.” He swallows. “And me and Spencer were gonna be best friends forever. And then I gave you my songs to sing and it was like everything else went to you, too. I gave you my voice and you stole my fucking life.”
He looks up, and Brendon is sitting across from him, but he doesn’t look like he gets it. He looks furious, white to his lips.
“You,” he chokes out, and then stands up and stomps out the back door into the yard. The door crashes against the kitchen wall, and Ryan flinches.
He’ll follow Brendon in a minute, once he's had some time to cool down. Instead, he looks around the kitchen. There’s a bowl and spoon in the sink, some fabric swatches stuck to the fridge, a stack of papers and a bowl of fruit on the countertop. The curtains are yellow; the countertop is green marble. There’s no dishwasher. He wonders how much is Brendon and how much is Sarah, if they get a maid service in to clean, if Sarah eats meat or just indulges Brendon.
“What are you doing here?” He hadn’t noticed Spencer’s drumming stopping, but he’s leaning in the kitchen doorway, red-faced and sweating, hands taped up and shirt sticking to him.
“Making things worse, I think,” says Ryan, and Spencer snorts.
“Surprise.” Spencer brushes past him, pulls a glass out of a cabinet, and fills it at the sink.
“I lied,” says Ryan. “I hadn’t written anything in like a year, until last week.” Spencer shoots him an incredulous look over the top of his glass, and Ryan shrugs. “It seemed significant.”
“Oh my god,” says Spencer. “Could you be further up your own ass?”
Ryan flushes. “I’m trying, okay.”
“What did you say to Brendon, then?”
“That I shouldn’t have let him sing my songs, because he stole my voice and my whole life.” It had felt like an important thing to say, but Spencer’s widened eyes tell another story.
“Ass,” he says vehemently, apparently unable to find words to convey the exact depth and breadth of Ryan’s assishness.
“Yes,” Ryan agrees.
Spencer sits down at the table. “So you’re coming to the wedding then.”
“I’m not sure I’m invited anymore,” Ryan replies. He fiddles with his shirt cuffs a little. “It’s just. You know. Feelings? Like, I feel mad at Brendon, because he’s got all the stuff I wanted, even though I know it isn’t his fault, but I still feel like... that’s mine, I should have it.”
Spencer looks out the window; Brendon’s standing at the edge of the patio, his back to them, talking on his phone, with his shoulders slumped. “You’re the one that walked away, though,” says Spencer, quietly. “You’re the one that didn’t want his voice anymore.” Or my drums, he doesn’t say, and that stings because the knowledge that Spencer would never be happy making the kind of music Ryan wanted didn’t stop him from expecting Spencer to come with him anyway.
“It was just music,” says Ryan. It’s insufficient; music has never been just anything between them, but it shouldn’t have been big enough to put a wedge between them like this.
Brendon comes back inside, stands at the door staring at them. He looks tired. “So,” he says.
“So,” Ryan echoes. He doesn’t know what to do with his hands.
“Oh my god, you two,” says Spencer. “Seriously.”
Brendon sort of smiles, just at the corner of his mouth. “Sorry, Spence.” He kicks out a chair and sits down, and they all three sit there and stare at each other.
“Are you seriously mad at me about this?” asks Brendon. “Because, dude.”
Ryan shrugs one shoulder, uneasily. “I don’t know. I think I was.”
“That isn’t fair,” says Brendon. “It’s not my fault.”
“I didn’t say it was.” The tea is cold and overbrewed; Ryan drinks it anyway. “I want to – I want to try. And be friends with you guys. I don’t know.”
Spencer touches his wrist hesitantly. “That’s all we wanted.”
Brendon is scowling at the table. “You couldn’t have just said that,” he mutters. “You couldn’t have just – I don’t know, sent the stupid RSVP? Shown up at the wedding with some ugly place settings?”
“Of course not,” says Spencer gently. “He had to make a scene.”
Ryan glares at him, but Spencer’s hand is still on his wrist, and Spencer’s smiling, just a little, teasing.
“Stole your life, what the fuck,” says Brendon, but he’s grumpy instead of angry, exasperated.
“It looks better on you anyway,” says Ryan, and Spencer’s hand tightens to the point of pain.
Brendon marries his lady outside, under a big spreading oak tree, on quiet weekday, in the sun. When she walks across the grass towards him all in white, Brendon cries without any shame, big happy tears rolling down his cheeks, and Spencer presses a clean handkerchief into his hand and murmurs something Ryan can’t make out from three rows back.
He nudges Jon. “Hey. Bet that Spencer is gonna cry like a girl during his best man speech?”
Jon looks startled, a little wary. “Um,” he says, and glances back up the front. Sarah is laughing and helping Brendon to wipe his face. She’s radiantly pretty. “Nah. Spencer’ll keep it together until everything’s over and we’ll find him sobbing his face off at two am because everything went perfect.”
Ryan snickers. “Right. Control freak.”
Another guest shushes them, and Pete turns around to pull a mocking face at them and then breaks into giggles.
They’re both wrong. Spencer is sniffling before even the end of the vows. Brendon has his handkerchief, so Spencer ends up wiping his face with the cuff of his shirt while the Brendon promises to cherish and love and respect the beaming girl in front of him. Ryan touches the purple silk handkerchief folded artfully into his own breast pocket thoughtfully, smiles when he catches Spencer’s eyes.
Later, in the big tent, with all the flickering torches turning everything golden, after Patrick plays something sweet and low for the bridal waltz, and Pete bullies the rent-a-dj out of his booth for while, and Shane takes a gazillion photos and Spencer does, indeed, break down during his best man speech – after Ryan and Jon have a quiet, intense argument that’s broken up by Cassie getting offended at Jon for some obscure coupley reason – and after most of Brendon’s Mormon relatives have said their sober goodbyes and quietly left – Ryan borrows Patrick’s guitar and the MC’s microphone and climbs up on the makeshift stage.
“So I wrote a song,” he says, and there’s some good-natured catcalling from the guests who know him. “Yeah, yeah, laugh it up. So this one is for my brothers,” he says, and smiles over at them. Brendon’s hanging onto his bride like if she gets loose, he’ll lose her, and Spencer’s eyes are glowing with his smile. Jon is hovering, too, like he’s not sure he’ll be welcome, or if he’s included. “It’s about having no regrets.”
Spencer’s laugh is disbelieving, and Ryan pulls a face at him. It’s not true, of course. Ryan thinks too much to have no regrets, and he’s made too many stupid mistakes.
But this isn’t one of them.